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Tuesday, January 11, 2022
January 11, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:13 PM :: 2165 Views

Cryptocurrency in Hawaii at a crossroads

DHHL Releases EA for Isenberg Street Rentals, Kalaeloa Solar Project

Drunk With Power: Sharon Har DUI case ends in 'acquittal'

HNN: … Judge Steven Hartley said there was not enough evidence to convict her. He said some of the evidence that was presented and testimony from witnesses were also “inconsistent.”

Police body camera videos played in court show the interaction between Har and the officers who pulled her over after she left a restaurant and bar in Moilili.

The same officers took the stand and Har’s attorney, Howard Luke, pointed out conflicting statements they made.

One officer is heard on the video telling Har that he smelled a slight odor of alcohol but when he testified in court he said the odor was very strong.

When questioned about it by Luke, the officer said on the stand that he was trying to be polite to Har but he insisted the odor was strong the whole time.

Har refused to take a breath or field sobriety test so there was no blood alcohol reading.

“Given all of those findings, given a review of the evidence that was presented at trial, specifically the video evidence, the court just does not have enough,” said Hartley.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

Ahead of the acquittal, the judge announced that he was going to throw the case out anyway, citing a recent state Supreme Court ruling that could affect hundreds of DUI and other misdemeanor cases for a procedural violation.

(If the judge had dismissed, it would have allowed prosecutors to re-file the case.  An acquittal does not.)

In a statement Monday, city Prosecutor Steve Alm said he was “very disappointed by Hartley’s ruling.” He was planning to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday to answer questions.

Har is up for re-election later this year….

read … High-profile DUI case against state lawmaker ends in acquittal

Witch Hunt Continues: House May Ask AG To Probe Alleged Criminal Conduct By State Auditor

CB: … The committee tasked by the Hawaii House of Representatives to examine two state audits is expected to make numerous recommendations next week to the Legislature based on its work over the past eight months.

While the draft is still being written, the committee chair, House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti, said Monday that the report may ask the state attorney general to investigate allegations of witness tampering, intimidation and retaliation on the part of State Auditor Les Kondo.  She cited the section of Hawaii Revised Statutes that addresses those offenses.

(BETTER IDEA: Investigate Belatti, Saiki, and Hanabusa.)

The recommendation was prompted by what Belatti described as new information that surfaced last week alleging that Kondo directly contacted a business partner of one of the witnesses.

That witness, Ross Murakami of auditing firm KMH, was called to testify under oath before the committee on Monday….

Murakami confirmed that his partner, Wilcox Choy, was contacted at least twice by Kondo after Murakami appeared before the House panel Dec. 15. Murakami also said that KMH’s financial audit of the Agribusiness Development Corp. was not entirely completed, reversing his earlier testimony that it had been.

Kondo strongly rejected the allegations, saying he had only informed Choy that Murakami’s earlier sworn testimony had been wrong.

“I didn’t ‘tamper,’ ‘intimidate,’ or ‘retaliate’ against Ross Murakami or anyone else,” Kondo said in an email Monday. “I notified Wilcox Choy that Mr. Murakami’s sworn testimony was factually inaccurate. While Mr. Murakami testified that, but-for my discussion with Mr. Choy, he would not have corrected the factual inaccuracies.”…

read … House May Ask AG To Probe Alleged Criminal Conduct By State Auditor

COVID Excuse: Higa sentencing delayed

HTH: … Former County Councilman and Na Leo TV CEO Stacy Higa is getting a reprieve from sentencing and possible incarceration for embezzling federal money and bribing a co-conspirator.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, in an order filed Monday, continued Higa’s sentencing hearing to Feb. 25.

Higa’s Honolulu attorney William A. Harrison in a Jan 6 motion had asked for postponement of Higa’s sentencing that was scheduled Thursday because Harrison isn’t ready to hop aboard an airplane to be with Higa in Hilo for the videoconferenced hearing.

“Counsel is hesitant to travel next week due to the high COVID counts,” Harrison said in the motion. “My client understands the situation and concurs in this request.”…

Judge Walton, holding the Oct. 13, 2021, hearing via video and audio-conference from Washington, D.C., seemed inclined to sentence Higa to prison time….

read … Higa sentencing delayed: Defense attorney cites pandemic travel reluctance to postpone hearing

SB666: Hawaii’s Legislature Will Use Climate Change as Excuse for Tax and Fee Hike

CB: … One bill that the Environmental Legislative Caucus said it plans to introduce on Jan. 21 would propose a so-called green fee that would be charged to tourists, with revenues funneled into environmental projects. Senate Bill 666 would have done the same thing, but it stalled in a House committee last session. It’s up to the committee whether to take it back up this session ….

TGI: County studies beach parking, considers visitor fees

read … ‘We Can’t Just Talk About It Anymore’: Hawaii’s Legislature Will Take On Climate Change

Rolling Blackouts Coming: Oahu renewable energy suffers setback

SA: … One renewable energy development firm recently terminated an agreement to produce electricity from a proposed 60-megawatt solar farm in Kunia, while the developer of a project twice as big in the same area is on the brink of possibly doing the same.

The pair of planned solar farms, Kupehau Solar and Mahi Solar, represent Oahu’s two biggest renewable energy projects approved by state regulators and slated for development by 2023.

Kupehau and Mahi combined were expected to produce enough electricity to power 57,000 homes.

Each project also included a battery system — the two largest proposed on Oahu, with 240 megawatt-hours for Kupehau and 480 megawatt-hours for Mahi — to store electricity made during the day for use at night, when most power is needed by customers.

The trouble with the two projects is due to cultural site impacts in one case and rising costs rela­ted to global supply chain issues in the other…

The two projects are among about 15 planned Hawaii solar farms with state Public Utilities Commission approval after being selected through competitive bidding by Hawaiian Electric, the regulated utility serving Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii island.

On Oahu, Hawaiian Electric is under pressure to have more renewable energy offset an impending Sept. 1 shutdown of the island’s main base-load power generator, a coal-fired plant operated by AES Corp.

The 180-megawatt AES plant has the same capacity as the Kupehau and Mahi projects combined and satisfies 16% of Oahu’s peak power needs. However, the previously projected start dates for the two solar farms were in mid- and late 2023 and not part of the near-term transition of AES coal power….

The most important near-term addition of renewable energy is a 185 megawatt-hour battery system called Kapolei Energy Storage. This project is slated for operation at the end of this year and is on schedule.

However, there has been some recently eroded confidence about two planned solar farms starting up this year as planned.

In December, Hawaiian Electric notified the PUC that the planned 36-megawatt Waiawa Solar project with 144 megawatt-hours of battery storage became at risk for missing its Sept. 30 start date. The same thing happened in November for a 12.5-megawatt project with 50 megawatt-hours of storage, AES West Oahu, which has a planned Sept. 7 start date …. 

SA Off the News: Clouds over solar projects

REALITY: 

read … Oahu renewable energy suffers setback

Prioritize COVID testing, transparency to keep schools going

SA: … The first week back to school from Christmas break went smoothly, considering surging cases in the community and the recent quarantine guideline changes. I have heard from some parents concerned about sending children to school, and some of my students also express fears of getting sick. However, most students and faculty that I have spoken with prefer in-person learning and believe we can do it safely.

The operative word is can. Schools should be equipped with tests to ensure immediate diagnosis, and contingency plans must be discussed and transparent….

Hawaii public school teachers are currently required to follow strict guidelines; if a student coughs, complains of a headache, blows their nose, or displays any of the 11 symptoms of COVID, they are immediately sent to the school nurse. This policy helps keep us all safe. But it doesn’t work if it’s not coupled with free and readily available testing.

My niece attends Santa Ynez Valley High in California, whose school nurse has tests available for students. When teachers at that school send students to the nurse, they are tested. This policy allows the COVID-19 response for students, parents and the school to be immediate.

Public schools in California have determined that tests are not a violation of privacy. They should be available here as well. Increased testing and the easier availability of testing would alleviate some of the concerns in our community….

read … Column: Prioritize COVID testing, transparency to keep schools going

First cruise ship to Hawaiʻi in 2 years arrives with positive COVID-19 cases in isolation

HPR: … Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s color-coded system for cruise ships, Grand Princess has a “yellow” status. That means the reported cases of COVID-19 have met the threshold for CDC investigation.

The criteria for "yellow" status includes cases reported in 0.10% or more of passengers, or one or more cases among the crew….

read … First cruise ship to Hawaiʻi in 2 years arrives with positive COVID-19 cases in isolation

U.S. military tracking Russian military vessel near Hawaii

SA: … The U.S. military is tracking a Russian spy ship in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, officials confirmed to the Star-Advertiser today.

The vessel has been in waters just outside of the Hawaii’s exclusive economic zone while commanders have monitored movements since at least Friday.

“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is monitoring the Russian vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hawaii,” INDOPACOM spokesman Maj. Rob Martins said. “As part of our normal daily operations, we closely track all vessels in the Indo-Pacific area of operations through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships and joint capabilities. We operate in accordance with international law of the sea and in the air to ensure that all nations can do the same without fear or contest and in order to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.” …

read … U.S. military tracking Russian military vessel near Hawaii

HPD And DOE Sued For Allegedly Handcuffing 10-Year-Old Girl Over Drawing

CB: … The mother of a 10-year-old girl is suing the City and County of Honolulu and the Hawaii State Department of Education after her daughter was arrested in school over a drawing.

The civil rights lawsuit was filed by lawyer Mateo Caballero and the ACLU on behalf of the girl, identified only as N.B., and her mother Tamara Taylor on Friday. It also names three HPD officers and the vice principal of Honowai Elementary School as defendants.

According to the complaint, N.B. was arrested with excessive force at the Waipahu school on Jan. 10, 2020 after another student’s mother saw the drawing and demanded that the school call the police. The lawsuit also alleges that N.B. was discriminated against because she is Black and has a disability — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder …..

read … HPD And DOE Sued For Allegedly Handcuffing 10-Year-Old Girl Over Drawing

New suits filed against housing project on Navy water line as flushing effort continues

HNN: … More lawsuits have been filed involving contaminated water from Red Hill, but they’re not against the Navy.

The two new suits name Kapilina Beach Homes, one of the areas around Pearl Harbor where the water is being flushed and filtered by the Navy under Health Department and EPA oversight.

Kapilina, formerly Iroquois Point military housing, is now mostly home to civilians….

Over the weekend, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam says its teams tested water samples from a bulk storage tank at Hickam Elementary School to verify the water quality.

On Monday, they started flushing individual homes in the Red Hill neighborhood. That process was OK’d by a multi-agency team after tests following a flushing and filtering of the system….

read … New suits filed against housing project on Navy water line as flushing effort continues

Hospitals report ‘critical’ shortage of staffed beds with 1,400 frontline caregivers out due to COVID

HNN: … On Monday, amid an ongoing COVID surge, at least 1,400 frontline caregivers were out of work because they are either infected with COVID or were exposed. That’s up 40% from last week.

The staffing shortage is impacting everyone who needs a hospital.

While the physical beds are there, the doctors and nurses needed to staff them are not….

On Monday morning, hospitals across state were slammed.

“We have 97 patients sitting in our emergency rooms waiting for a bed,” said Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “And that’s a very high number.”

Raethel said it’s gotten to the point where some facilities are struggling to care for all the patients ― close to 90% of whom aren’t sick with COVID….

read … Hospitals report ‘critical’ shortage of staffed beds with 1,400 frontline caregivers out due to COVID

Quack? Maui Hospital Goes After Antivax Doc

MN: … On the Dec. 31 episode of the wildly popular Joe Rogan podcast, mRNA therapy inventor (NOT!) Dr. Robert Malone stated that the administration of Maui Health (Maui Memorial Medical Center) wrote to the Medical Board of Maryland to revoke his medical license because while on Maui in October 2021, Dr. Malone promoted early therapy for COVID. (spouted antivaxxer quackery).

According to Dr. Malone, the complaint filed by Maui Health included alleging he did not graduate from Harvard and that he was personally responsible for millions of deaths for promoting early treatment for COVID.

Joe Rogan’s podcast averages over 10 million listeners per episode and his most recent episode about COVID had upwards of 30 million listeners.

read … Prominent doctor’s actions are challenged

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